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TANNHA.USER

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XVI

Due is incisive, corrosive ;

Two retorts, nettled, curt, crepitant;

Three makes rejoinder, expansive, explosive ;

Four overbears them all, strident and strepitant ; Five ... 0 Dauaides, 0 Sieve!

XVII

Now, they ply axes and crowbars; Now, they prick pins at a tissue

Fine as a skein of the casuist Escobar's

Worked on the bone of a lie. To what issue?

Where is our gain at the Two-bars?

XVIII

Est juga, 7!olv.itur rota.

On we drift; where looms the dim port?

One, Two, Three, Four, Five, contribute their quota; Something is gained, if one caught but the import~ Show it us, Hughes of Saxe-Gotha I

R. BROWNING, Master H1lglu:s oj Saxe- Got/.a.

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TANNHAUSER

A STORY OF ALL TIME

BY

ALEISTER CRO\iVLEY

A New Edit£on Price Fiftee1'~ Shzllings net to the trade

SOCIETY FOR THE PROPAGATION OF RELIGIOUS TRUTH

BOLESKINE, F DYERS, INVERNESS

1907

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DEDICATION

I SHALL not tell thee that I love thee! Nay! by the Star in Heaven burning, I ts ray to me at midnight turning

To tell me that it beams above thee-

Nay! though thou wert, as I am, yearning, I should not tell thee that I love thee!

I know what secret thought once blossomed Into a blush that seemed a kiss,

Some swift suppressed extreme of bliss I n thy most fearful sigh embosomed.

What oracle should prate of this?

I know the secret thought that blossomed!

Extol the truth of love's disdain!

Love, daring by no glance to gladden A heart that waits but that to madden

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In purple pleasure plucked of pain.

Nay! let our tears, that fail to sadden, Extol the truth of love's disdain!

Let deeper silence shield the deeper rapture!

Hardly our eyes reveal the inward bliss, Sealed by no speech and shadowed by no kiss.

Love is no wizard to elude recapture In the strong prison of his silences!

Let deeper silence shield the deeper rapture!

Twin souls are we, to one Star bound in Heaven!

Twin souls on earth by earthly bars divided!

But, did thy spirit glide as mine has glided Straight to That Star-no rose-leaves ask to leaven The manna that the Moon of Love provided!

Twin souls are we, to one Star bound in Heaven!

N at to thy presence in the veil and vision

Of solemn lies that men miscall the world;

N at to thy mind the lightnings truth ward hurled!

I turn. I laugh dead distance to derision!Spirit to spirit: there our loves ar curled, ot to thy presence in the veil and vision!

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Beyond the gold and glamour of Life's lotus,

The ffower that falls from this OUf stronger sight, We dwell, eternal shapes of shadowy light.

Only the love on earth that shook and smote us

Begets new stars-s-truth's flowers fallen through night Beyond the gold and glamour of Life's lams I

Eternal bliss of Love in birthless bowers!

Light, the gemmed robes of Love! Life, lifted breath, Ageless existence deifying death!

Love, the sale flower beyond these lesser flowers !In thee at last the live fruit quickeneth?

Eternal bliss of Love in birthless bowers!

*

*

*

There, secret! Know it! Now forget!

Betray not Wisdom unto Follyl

Less sweet is Joy than Melancholy!Why should our eyes for this be wet?

Enough: be silent and be holy!

There, secret! Know it! N ow forget I

Now I have told thee that I love thee!

To me our Star in Heaven burning

Tells me thy heart as mine is yearning; Tens me Love's fragrance stolen above thee Thy soul to mine at last is turning

Now I have told thee that I love thee!

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PREFACE

As. after long observation and careful study, the biologist sees that what at first seemed isolated and arbitrary acts are really part of a series of regular changes, and presently has the life-history of the being that he is exam ining clear from Alpha to Omega in his mind; as. during a battle, the relative importance of its various incidents is lost, the more so owing to the excitement and activity of the combatant, and to the fact that he is himself involved in the vicissitudes which he may have set himself to observe; while even for the commander, though the smoke-pall may lift now and again to show some brilliant charge or desperate hand-tohand struggle, he may fail to grasp its significance in his dispositions; or indeed find it to be quite unexpected and foreign to his calculations; yet a few years or months later the same battle may be lucidly, tersely, and connectedly described, so that a child is able to follow its varying fortunes with delight and comprehension: just so has my own observation of a life-history more subtle, a battle more terrible, been at last co-ordinated: I can view the long struggle from a

B

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standpoint altogether complete, calm, and philosophical; and the result of this review is the present story of Tannbauser, just as the isolated and often apparently contradictory incidents of the fight were recorded in that jungle of chaotic emotions which I printed under the title of "The Soul of Osiris," calling it a history so that my readers might discover for themselves (if they chose to take the trouble) the real continuity in the apparent disjointedness.

The history of any man who seriously and desperately dares to force a passage into the penetralia of nature; not with the calm philosophy of the scientist, but with the burning conviction that his immortal destiny is at stake ; must be a strange one: to me at least strangely attractive. The constant illusions; the many disappointments; the bitter earnestness of the man amid the grim humour, or more often sheer cacchination of his surroundings; all the bestial mockery of the baffling fiends j the still more hideous mockery in which the Powers of Good themselves seem to indulge; doubt of the reality of that which he seeks; doubt even of the seeker; the irony of the whole strife; are fascinating to me as they are, I make no doubt, to the majority of mankind.

This is the subtler form of that mental bewilderment which the Greek Tragedians were so fond of depicting; as subtle in effect, yet grosser in its determining factors. For we are thus changed from the times of Sophocles and Euripides; that the fixed ideas of morality and religion which they employed as the motives of pathos or of horror are now shattered.

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Ibsen, otherwise in spirit and style purely Greek, and dealing as the Greeks did with the emotions of the soul, has realised the changed and infinitely more complex conditions of life; our self-appoint d spiritual guides notwithstanding, or, rather, withstanding in vain. Consequently it is impossible any more to divine whether virtue or vice (as understood of old) will cause the irreparable catastrophe which is the one element of drama which we may still (in the work of a modern dramatist) await with any degree of confidence.

I trust that I may be forgi yen for adopting the idea that Tannhauser was one of those mysterious Germans whose reputed existence so perturbed the Middle Ages; in short, a Rosicrucian. Some people may be surprised that a Member of that illustrious but unhappy fraternity should take cognizance of what my friend Bhikku Ananda Mitriya calls" hognosed Egyptian deities," still more that he should show reverence to symbols like the B.. V. M. and the Holy Grail. But the most learned and profound students of the Mysteries of the Rosy Cross assure me that it was the special excellence of these mystics that they declined to be bound down by any particular system in their sublime search for the Eternal and the Real.

Under these circumstances I have not scrupled to subvert anything that appeared to me to need subverting in the interests, always identical, of beauty and of truth. Anachronism may be found piled upon anachronism, and symbolism mixed with symbolism.

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In one direction I have restrained myself. Nowhere

does Tannhauser refer to the Vedas and Shastras or to the Dhamma of that blameless hypochondriac, Gotama Buddha. I take all the blame for so important all! omission, not without a shrewd suspicion that the commination will take the form of" For this relief much thanks! "

The particular object that I have in view ill! speaking both in Hebrew and Egypto-Christian symbology is that by this means I may familiarise my readers with the one thing of any importance that life, travel, and study have taught me, to wit: the Origin of Religions.

I take it that there have always, or nearly always, been on the earth those whom Councillor von Eckartshausen, the Svarni Vivekananda and their like, call "great spiritual giants" (can there be any etymological link between II yogi" and ,j ogre" .?) and that such persons, themselves perceiving Truth, have tried to "diminish the message to the dog" for the benefit of less exalted minds, and hidden that Truth (which, unveiled, would but blind men with its glory) in a mass of symbology often perverted or grotesque, yet to the proper man transparent; a "bait of falsehood to catch the carp of truth." N ow, regarded in this light, all religions, qua religions, are equally contemptible. The Hindu Gnanis say" That which can be thought is not true." As machineries for the exercise of spiritual and intellectual powers innate or developed, certain sets of symbols may be more or less convenient to a special trend

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of mind, reason, or imagination; no more: I deny to any one religion the possession of any essential truth which is not also formulated (though in a different bnguage) in every other. To this rule Buddhism appears a solitary exception. Whether it is truly so I have hardly yet decided: the answer depends upon certain recondite mathematical considerations, to discuss which would be foreign to the scope of my present purpose, but which I hope to advance in a subsequent volume ..

If you do not accept my conclusion that all religions are the expression of truth under different aspects, facets of the same intolerable gem, you are forced back on the conclusions of those unpleasing persons the Phallicists. But should you travel to the East, and tell a Lingam-worshipping Sivite that his is a phallic worship he will not be pleased with you. Compare on this point Arnold, "India Revisited," 1886,

p. I 12.

So much for the symbology of this, I fear, much-mangled drama. Drama indeed is an altogether misleading term; monodrama is perhaps better. It is really a series of introspective studies; not necessarily a series in time, but in psychology, and that rather the morbid psychology of the Adept than the gross mentality of the ordinary man.

It may help some of my readers if I say that my Tannhauser is nearly identical in scheme with the" Pilgrim's Progress," Literary and spiritual experts will however readily detect minor differences in the treatment. It wiII be sufficient if I state that" the U nknown," whether minstrel,

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pilgrim, or Egyptian sage, represents Tannhauser in his true Self,--the " nly Being In an Abyss of Light!" The Tannhauser who talks is the·f nly eing in an Abyss of

arkness," the natural man ignorant I his identity with the Supreme Being. The various other characters are all little parts of Tannhauser's own consciousness and not real persons at all: wheth r good or bad, all alike hinder and help (and there is not one whose function is not thus double) the realisation of his true unity with all life. This circumstance serves to explain, though perhaps not to excuse, the lack of dramatic action in the story. Love being throughout the symbol of his method, as Beauty of its object, it is through Love, refined into Pity, that he at last attains the Supreme Knowledge, or at least sufficient of it to put the last straw on the back of his corporeal camel, and bring the story to a fitting end.

To pass to more mundane affairs. I may mention for the benefit of those who may not be read in certain classes of literature, and so think me original when I am hardly even paraphrasing, that Tannhauser's songs in Act IV. are partly adapted from the so-called "Oracles of Zoroaster," partly from the mysterious utterances of the great angel Ave, perhaps equally spurious. Of course Bertram's song is merely a rather free adaptation of the two principal fragments of Sappho, which so many people have failed to translate that one can feel no shame in making yet another attempt. There may be one or two conscious plagiarisms besides, for which I do not apologise. For any unconscious ones which

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may have crept in owing to my prolonged absence from civilized parts, and the consequent lack of opportunity for reference and comparison, I emphatically do.

One word to the reviewers. I t must not be taken as

ungracious if I so speak. From nearly all I have received the utmost justice, kindness, and consideration: two or three only seem to take delight in deliberately perverting the sense of my remarks: and to them, for their own sake, I now address these words of elementary instruction. You are perfectly welcome to do with my work in its entirety what Laertes did with his allegiance and his vows: but do not pick out and gloat over a few isolated passages from the Venusberg scenes and call me a sensualist, nor from the Fourth Act and groan" Mysticism! "; do not quote" Two is by shape the Coptic Aspirate" as a sample of my utmost in lyrics; do not take the song of Wolfram as my best work in either sentiment or melody. As a quid pro quo I give you all full permission to conclude your review of this book by quoting from Act II 1. "Forget this nightmare!"

I must express my great sense of gratitude to Oscar Eckenstein, Gerald Kelly, and Allan MacGregor, who have severally helped me in the work of revision, which has extended over more than a year of time and nearly twenty thousand miles of space.. Some few of the very best lines were partially or wholly suggested by themselves, and. I have not scrupled to incorporate these; if the book be but a Book, the actual authorship seems to me immaterial.

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I have written this preface in lighter vein, but I hope that no one will be led to suppose that my purpose is anything but deadly serious. This poem has been written in the blood of slain faith and hope j each foolish utterance of Tannhauser stings me with shame and memory of old agony; each Ignis Fatuus that he so readily pursues, reminds me of my own delusions. But, these follies and delusions being [he common property of mankind, I have thought them of sufficient interest, dramatic and philosophical, to form the basis of a poem. Let no man dare to reproach me with posmg as the hero of my tale. I fall back on the Iast utterance of Tannhauser himself <r I say, then, 'I': and yet it is not 'I' Distinct, but 'I' incorporate in AII." Above alI, pray understand that I do not pose as a teacher. I am but an asker of questions, such as may be found confronting those who have indeed freed their minds from the conventional commonplaces of the platitudinous, but have not yet dared to uproot the mass of their convictions, and to examine the whole question of religion from its most fundamental source in the consciousness of mankind. Such persons may find the reasoning of Tannhauser useful, if only to brace them to a more courageous attempt to understand the" Great Arcanum,' and to attain at last, no matter at what cost, to "trne Wisdom and perfect Happiness." So may all happen!

KANDY, CEYLON, Sept. 1901.

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PERSONS CONCERNED

THE WORLD OF GODS.

ISIs. HATHOOR.

THE WORLD OF MEN.

TANNHAOSER.

ELIZABETH.

AN UNKNOWN MINSTREL. THE LANDGRAVE.

WOLFRAM, }

BERTRAM, , At the Court 0/ the Landgras».

HEINRICH,

A SHEPHERD Bov.

PILGRIMS, FORESTERS, COURTIERS, ETC.

THE WORLD OF DEMONS.

THE EVIL AND AVBRSE HATHOCIR, CALLED VENUS.

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ACT I.

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Ar:batel oj Magic, AjJhon'sm 35,

"Therefore we are carefully to proceed ill Magic, lest that Syrens and other monsters deceive us, which likewise do desire the society of the human soul."

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A lonely and desolate pla£n. Tannhii/user ridz'ng towards a great mountain:

T ANNHAUSER.

SIX days. Creation took no longer ! Yet

. I wander eastward, and no light is found.

The stars their motion shirk, or else forget.

The sun-the moon? Imprisoned underground! Where gnomes disport, and devils do abound.

Six days. I journey to the black unknown, Always in hope the Infinite may rise Some unexpected instant, as. 'twere grown A magic palace to enchanted eyes;

A wizard guerdon for a minstrel wise.

Perhaps I am a fool to think that here, Merely by rending Nature's hollow veil.

I may attain the Solitary Sphere, Achieve the Path;. or, haply, if I fail, Gain the Elixir, or behold the Grail.

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1 seek the mystery of Life and Time, The Key of all that is not and that is,

And that which=-climb, irnagination l climb!Transcends them both-the mystical abyss Where Mind and Being marry, and are Bliss.

So have I journeyed-like a fool! Ah, well !

Let pass self-scorn, as move of self is past!

But-am I further forward? Who can tell?

God is the Complex as the Prot plast:

He is the First (not" was "), and is the Last

(Not "will be"). Then why travel? To what

end?

What is the symbol I am set to find?

What is that burning heart of blood to spend Caught in a sunset with the night behind,

The Grail of God? I would that I were blind!

I would that I were desolate and dumb, Naked and poor! That He might manifest A crimson glory subtly caught and come,

An opal crucible of Alkahest !

And yet-what gain of vital gold expressed?

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This were my guerdon: to fade utterly Into the rose-heart of that sanguine vase, And lose my purpose in its silent sea,

And lose my life, and find my life, and pass Up to the sea that is as molten glass.

I mind me of that old Egyptian,

Met where Aurora streamed her rainbow hair, Who called me from the quest. An holy man!

A crown of light scintillant in. the air Shone over him: he bade me not despair.

" The Blood of the Osiris" was his word:

(Meaning the Christ?) "The life, the tears, the tomb!

" The Love of Isis is its name." (I heard This for the love of Mary.) In her womb Brews the Elixir, and the roses bloom.

For the Three Maries (so he said) were One:

Three aspects of the mystic spouse of God, Isis! This pagan! " Look towards the Sun " (Quoth he) " And seek a winepress to be trod; "With Beauty girdled, garlanded, and shod.

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"Thus," riddled he, "thy heart shall know its Peace! "

Let be ! I ride upon the sand instead, Look to the Cross, whereon I take mine ease!

Let be! Just so the Roman soldier said. Esaias ? He is dead-as l am dead!

What was his symbol and his riddle's key?

Go, seek the stars and count them and explore!

Go, sift the sanels beyond a starless sea!

So, find an answer where the dismal shore Of time beats back ternity l No more!

Let me ride on more hastily than this, That so my body may be tired of me, And fling me to th old forgetful kiss,

Jeep's, when my mind goes, riderless and free, Into some corner of eternity.

Alas! that mind returns from its abode

With newer problems, fiercer thoughts! But

stay!

Suppose it came not? It must be with God!Then this dull house of gold and iron and clay Is happy also-'tis an easy way!

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So easy, I am fearful of mishap.

Some fatal argument the God must find

That linked us first. The dice are in His lapLet Him decide in His imperial mind!

My choice; to see entirely-and be blind!

Yet I bethink me of that holy man,

(Pagan albeit) my stirrup's wisdom-share: ," Learn this from Thothmes the Egyptian.

" Use only in thine uttermost despair!"

He whispered me a Word, " Beware! Beware!

" Two voices are there in the sullen sea;

" Two functions hath the inevitable fire; " Earthquake hath earth, and yet fertility: " See to thy purpose, and thy set desire!

" Else, dire the fate-the ultimation dire!"

Vague threats and foolish words! Quite meaningless The empty sounds he muttered in mine ear.

Why should their silly mystery impress

My thoughtful forehead with the lines of fear? (This riding saps my courage as my cheer.)

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Still, I must see his symbol of the Sun,

The \Vinepress" and the Beauty! Puerile A nd pagan to that old mysterious one,

The awful Light and the anointed Vial,

The Dawning of the Blood, even as a smile ;-

Even as a smile on Beauty's burning cheekHa ! In a circle? As this journey is?

How vain is man's imagining and weak!

Begod my lady, and my lady's kiss? Back swing we to the pitiful abyss,

Liken God's being to the life of man.

So reason staggers. Angels, answer me!

Ye who have watched the far unfolding plan-sHow is time shorter than eternity?

Prove it and weigh! By mind it cannot be.

All our divisions spring in our own brain.

See! As upsprings on the horizon there A clefted hill contemptuous of the plain. (Why, which is higher?) I am in despair. Let me essay the Pharaoh and his prayer!

[ T amdtiiztSer speaks the Word of Double Power. 26

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Oh God, Thy blinding beauty; and the Might Shed from Thy shoulders, and the golden night Of mingling fire and stars and roses swart

I n the long flame of hair that leaps athwart, Live in each tingling gossamer! Dread eyes! Each Rings its arrow of sharp sacrifice,

Eating me up with poison! I am hurled

Far through the vaporous confines of the world With agony of sundering sense, beholding

Thy mighty flower, blood-coloured death, unfolding! Lithe limbs and supple shoulders and lips curled, Curled out to draw me to their monstrous world! Warm breasts that glow with light ephemeral

And move with passionate music to enthrall,

To charm, to enchant, to seal the entrancing breath. I fall! Stop! Spare me i-Slay me!

[Tannhauser enters z'nto an ecstasy.

This is death.

[The evil and averse Hat/ioor, or Venus, w,ho hat/I- arisen i,l the place of the Great Goddess, lifteth up her voice and chantetk ,:-.

VENUS.

Isis am I, and from my life are fed

All showers and suns) all moons that wax and wane, All stars and streams, the living and the dead,

The mystery of pleasure and of pain.

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I am the mother! I the speaking sea '! ] am the earth and its fertility!

Life, death, love, hatred, light, darkness, return to meTo me!

Hathoor am I, and to my beauty drawn All glories f the Universe bow down,

The blossom and the mountain and the dawn, Fruit's blush, and woman, our creation's crown.

I am the priest, the sacrifice, the shrine, [ am the love and life of the divine!

Life. dleath, love, hatred, light, darkness are surely mineAre mine!

Venus am I, the love and light of earth, The wealth of kisses, the delight of tears, The barren pleasure never come to birth, The endless, infinite desire of years.

I am the shrine at which thy long desire Devoured thee with intolerable fire.

I was song, music, passion, death, upon thy lyreThy lyre!

I am the Grail and I the Glory now:

I am the flame and fuel of thy 1breast ; I am the star of God upon thy brow;

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Hide thee, sweet river; welcome to the sea, Ocean of love that shall encompass thee!

Life, death, love, hatred" light, darkness, return to me->To me!

[Ta1mhauser perceives that he is -in the palace 0/ a Great Queen.

Rise, rise, my knight 1 My king! My love, arise! See the grave avenues of Paradise,

The dewy larches bending at my breath, Portentous cedars prophesying death! See the long vistas and the dancing sea, The measured motion of fecundity!

Bright winds set swaying the soft-sounding flowers (Here flowers have music) in my woven bowers, Where sweet birds blossom, and in chorus quire The rapt beginnings of immense desire.

Here is the light and rapture of the will :

vVe touch the stars-and they are tiny still !

o mighty thews! 0 godlike face and hair!

Rise up and take me; ay, and keep me there,

One tingle at thy touch from head ito feet;

Lips that cling close, and never seem to meet, Melting as sunlight melts in wine! Arise! Shame! Has thy learning left thee overwise ? Thy lips sing fondly-to another tu ne.

Nay! 'twas my breathing beauty made thee swoon, 29

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Dread forked fire across the cloven sky; Stripped off thy body of mortality-

Nay, but on steeper slopes my love shall strive! Our bodies perish and our hearts revive

Vainly, unless the shaking sense beware

The crested nakes shot trembling through our hair, Their wisdom! But our souls leap, flash, unite, One crowned column of avenging light,

Fixed and yet floating, infinite, immense,

Caught in the meshes of the cruel sense,

Two kissing breaths of agony and pI asure,

Mixed, crowned, divided, beyond age or measure, Time, thought, at being! Now thine eyes awake, Droop at my kisses; the long lashes slake

Their sleek and silky thirst in tears of light!

Thine eyes! They burn me, even me! They

smite

Me who am scatheless, and a Harne of fire. See, in our sorrow and intense desire

All worlds are caught and sealed! The stars are taken In love's weak web, and gathered up, and shaken! OUf word is mighty on the magic moon!'

The sun resurges to our triple tune!

(See, it is done! ) 0 chosen of the Christ!

My knight, and king, and lover, wast thou priced, A portion in the all-pervading bliss,

Thou, whom I value at my ageless kiss?

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Chosen of Me! Thou heart of hearts, thou mine" Man! Stamping into dust the Soul Divine

By might of that mere Manhood! Sense and thought Reel for the glory of thee kissed and caught

I n the eternal circle of my arms!

Woven in vain are the mysterious charms Endymion taught Diana! For one gaze; One word of my unutterable praise j

And I was utterly and ever lost,

Lost in the whirlwind of thy love, and tossed A wreck on its irrerneable sea!

Life! Life! This kiss!' Draw in thy breath! To me !

To me!

[Tannhauser is lost.

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ACT II.

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" But a moment's thought is passion's passing bell." -KEATS, Lavu«,

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In Ve1:msberg.

VENUS.

'SWEET, sweet are May and June, dear) '. The loves of lambent spring,

Our lamp the drooping moon, dear,

Our roof, the stars that sing; The bed, of moss and roses; The night, as long as death !, sun, breath!

Life wakens and reposes, Love ever quickeneth!

Sweet" sweet, when Lion and Maiden, The motley months of gold,

Swoop down with sunlight laden,

And eyes are bright and bold.

Life-swelling breasts uncover

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Their warm involving de pLove, sleep !--

And lover lies with lover On air's substantial steep.

TANNHXUSER.

Ah! sweeter was SeptemberThe amber rain of leaves, The harvest to remember,

The load of sunny sheaves.

In gardens deeply scented, In orchards heavily hung, Love flung

Away the days demented

With lips that curled and clung.

Ah! Sweeter still October,

\ hen russet leaves g grey, And! sombre loves and sober Make twilight of the day.

Dark dreams and shadows tenser Throb through the vital scroll, Ian's soul.

Lift, shake the subtle censer That hides the cruel coal!

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Still sweeter when the Bowman H is silky shaft of frost

Lets loose on earth, that no man May linger nor be lost.

The barren woods, deserted, Lose echo of our sighsLove-dies ?-

Love lives-in granite skirted, And under oaken skies.

But best is grim December, The Goatish God his power; The Satyr blows the ember, And pain is passion's flower; When blood drips over kisses,

And madness sobs through wine :Ah, mine!-

The snake starts up and hisses And strikes and-I am thine!

VENUS.

Those are thy true joys? Cruelty for love?

TANNHAU ER.

And death in kissing. How I have despised, Riding through meadows of the rushing Rhine,

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To watch the gentle foresters of spring Crush dainty violets in their dalliance, Laughing in chorus with the birds ; and then (Coming at harvest time upon my tracks) See these same lovers in the golden sheaves Under the sun. The same, the fuller fruit, Say you? But somehow, nearer to the end, Lost the old sense of mystery, and lost

That curious reverence in sacrilege

With Wonder-the child's faculty! Less joy, Less laughter. yes! that symptom I approve; Yet is that subtle fading-out of smiles

Rather the coming of a dull despair,

And not at all that keen despair, that sharp Maddening pain that should torment a man With deadliest delight, the self-same hour That he unveils the Isis of desire.

These little lovers strip their maidens bare, And find them-naked! Poor and pitiful! Look at our love instead! I raised Thy veil, Nay, tore Thy vesture from Thee, and behold! Then only did I see what mystery,

What ninefold forest, shade impassible, Surrounds Thy heart, as with a core of light Shut in the mystery of a dead world.

Thou formless sense of gloom and terror! Thou U pas, new tree of life-by sinister

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Cherubim with averted faces kept!

Nay! This one secret I suspect, and gloat Over the solemn purport of the dream With subtle shuddering of joy,-and that Keener delight, a sense of deadly fear! This secret: Thou art darkness in Thyself, And evil wrapped in light, and ugliness Vested in beauty! Therefore is my love No petty passion like these country-folk's; No fertile glory (as the Love of God) :

But vast and barren as the winter sea

,

Holding I know not what enormous soul I n its salt bitter bosom; underneath

The iron waters and the serpent foam;

Below, where sight and sound are set no more, But only the intolerable weight

Of its own rrloomy selfhood, This am I:

This passion, lion-mouthed and adder-eyed.

A mass compressed, a glowing central core,

Like molten metal in the crucible!

Death's secret is some sweetness ultimate,

Sweeter than poison. Ah! My very words, Chance phrases, ravel out the tale for me-sSweetness and death-poison and love. Consider How this same striving to the Infinite,

Which I intend by" love," is likest to

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Because no soul of man has ever crossed Again that River-the old fable's wrong; }Eneas came never to the ghostly side!

Was not the boat weighed with his body still ? Felt he the keen emotions of the dead?

Could he, the mortal and the warrior,

Converse with Th m, and understand? Believe! No soul has crossed in utter sympathy

And yet returned; because of this decree:

No man can look upon the face of God! Yet Moses looked upon His hinder parts, And I-yes, goddess! in this passionate Life in our secret mountain, well I know

Thy beauty, and Thy lov J (although they be Infinite, far beyond the mortal mind,

Body, or soul to touch, to comprehend,

And dwell in) that the utter intimate Knowledge of Thee, if once I ravelled out Thy secret, laid Thee naked to the boneNay, to the marrow! were to come, aware, Face to face full with deity itself.

And this I strive at! Therefore is my love Wholly in tune with that concealed desire

Bred in each mortal, though he never know, (Few do know) to transcend the bound of

things,

And find in Death the purpose of this life. 40

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VENUS.

Yes, there you tear one veil away from me! Yet, am not I the willing one? Indeed

I feel the wonder of that same desire

From mine own side of the Impassible.

See then how equal God and man are made! For I have clothed! me in the veil of flesh, And strive toward thy finite consciousness As thou art reaching to my infinite, Nurturing my Godhead at the breast of Sin With milk of fleshly stings-even to pain :-

T ANNHAUSER.

I see, I see the Christian mystery'

That was the purpose of High God Himself,

Clothed in the Christ! Ah! Triumphed He at last? Nay, not in death! The slave-He rose again! Alas! Alas!

VENUS.

Alas indeed, my knight!

We love not! Being both enamoured of Just the one thing that is impossible.

But in this carnal strife the Intimate

Achieves for one snatched swiftness. Kiss me, love!

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T A 'IL\USE:R.

Ah, but the waking! As] sink to sleep Pillowed in nuptial arms-so fresh and cool(yet in their veins I know the fire that runs Racine and maddening from the crown of flame, The monolithic c re of mystical

Red fury that is called a woman's heart) Sinking, I say, from the supreme embrace, The Good-night kisses; sinking into sleepWhat dreams betoken the dread solitude?

VENUS.

What dreams? h, drearnest not f me, my knight?

Of vast caresses that include all worlds?

Of transmutation into molten steel

Fusing with my intolerable gold

In the red crucible of alchemy,

That is-of clay?

T ANNHAuSER.

I dream of no such thing.

But of Thy likeness have I often seen

The vast presentment-formless, palpable, Breathing. Not breathing as we use the word, When life and spirit mingle in one breath,

Slay passion in one kiss-breathing, I say, Differently from Thee!

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VENUS.

Explain, explain!

T ANNHAuSER,

As if were kindled into gold and fire The East!

VENUS.

The East!

T ANNHAUSER.

As if a flowerless moss Suddenly broke in passionate primroses!

VENUS.

V iolets, violets !

T ANNHAUSER.

Or as if a man

Lay in the fairest garden of the world, In the beginning: and grew suddenly A living soul at that caressing wind!

VE U-.

A living soul!

TANNHAUSER.

So is Thy shade to me When sleep takes shape.

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VENU.

She is mine enemy Hate her, 0 hate her, she will slay thy soul!

T ANNHA USER.

And is rlly soul not slain within me now? Yet, I do hate her-in these waking hours. But in my sleep she grows upon the sense, A solitary lotus that pales forth

In he wide seas of space and separateness. That radiance !-Amber-scented voice of light, Calling my name, ever, ever calling-

VENUS.

Answer that call-and thou art lost indeed! Wake thou thy spirit in this hateful sleep, Keeping the vision, rise, and spit on her!

TANNHAUSER.

Spit on Thy likeness? I who love Thee so?

VENUS.

Yes, yes: obey me! She will leave thee then.

She hath assumed mine image! [Thzmder.

T ANNHAuSER.

What is that?

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VENUS.

Mere thunder on the mountain top. Do this, And I will come in sleep, in sleep renew

The carnal joys of day.

T ANNHAUSER.

Hast Thou forgot?

I t is the fleshly I would flee!

VENUS.

Forget?

But I strive fleshwards. Let our sleep renew The endless struggle-and perhaps, for thee, For thee !-the veil may lift another fold.

T ANN HAUSER.

Why dost Thou hate this vision?

VENUS •.

She would take

Thee from these arms!

T ANNHAUSER.

But she is beautiful With Thine own beauty: yet as if the God Cancelled its mortalcomeliness, and came More intimate than matter, closing in

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Keen on my spirit; as if all I sought

In Thine own symbol, Beauty, were concealed Under her brows-how wid r than the air! How deeper than the sea 'I How radiant Beyond the fire!

VENUS.

o shun her devilish lures 1 That Beauty is the sole detested fear

That can annul our conquests, and arouse OUf rapt dream-kisses.

VENUS.

TANNHAU ER.

That is my intent.

I t is the spiritual life of things I seek-Thou knowest!

Oh, I did not mean!

Remember my dilemma! Hear me speak The story of her. She is a wicked witch That seeketh to delude thy sleepy sense In vicious purpose and malignant hope

To ape my Godhead.

[Tlumder.

TANNHAUSER.

Thunder rolls again.

I am uneasy.

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VENUS.

Heed it not at all !

May not m) servants of the elements

Play children's gambols on the mountain crest About our fortress? Leave this idle talk. Come, in this sweet abandonment of self-· Come, with this kiss I seal thy loyal oath

To spit upon her!

T ANNHAUSER.

Ah, you murder me !

[S£ngs.

Come, love, and kiss my shoulders! Sleepy lies The tinted bosom whence its fire flies,

The breathing life of thee, and swoons, and sighs, And dies!

N one but the dead can know the worth of love!

Come, love, thy bosom to my heart recalls Strange festivals and subtle funerals.

Soft passion rises in the amber walls,

And falls !

None but the dead can breathe the life of love!

Come, love, thy lips, curved hollow as the moon's! Bring me thy kisses, for the seawind tunes,

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The song that soars, and reads the starry runes, And swoons!

N one but the dead can tune the lyre of Jove!

Come, jove, thy body serpentine and bright. What love is this, the heart of sombre light, Impossible, and therefore infinite?

Sheer height!

None but the dead can twine the limbs of love.

Come, love! My body in thy passion weeps Tears keen as dewfall's, salter than the deep's. My bosom! How its fortress wakes, and leaps, And sleeps!

N one but the dead can sleep the sleep of love!

Come, love, 'caress me with endearing eyes!

Light the long rapture that nor fades n r flies! Love laughs andl lingers, frenzies, stabs, and sighs, And dies!

N one but the dead can know the worth of love! [Ta'1t1thiittSer sleeps.

VENUS.

Sleep on, poor fo I, and in thy sleep forlorn Defy the very beauty that thou seekest !

N ow is the solemn portal of the dusk Lifted; and in the gleaming silver-gray,

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The eastern sky, steps out the single One, Hathoor and Aphrodite-whom I mock!

I may not follow in the dimness-I

Chained unto matter by my evil will, Delight of death and carnal life. But see! He stirs, as one beholding in a dream

Some deadly serpent or foul basilisk Sunning its scales, called kingly, in the mire. Strike, a my lover! I will drag thee down Into mine 'Own unending pain and hate

To be one devil more upon the earth.-

Come! ye my serpents, wrap his bosom round With your entangling leprosy! And me,

Let me assume the beloved limber shape,

The crested head, the jewelled eyes of death, And sinuous sinewy glitter of serpenthood, That I may look once more into his face,

And, kissing, kill him 1 Thus to hold him fast, Drawing his human spirit into mine

For strength, for life, for poison! Ah, my God!

These pangs, these torments! wakes!

I am triumphant! For he reaches out

The sleepy arms, and turns the drowsy head

See! the sleeper

To catch the dew dissolving of my lip.

Wake, lover, wake! Thy Venus waits for thee! Draw back, look, hunger !-and thy mouth is mine

G

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T ANNHAuSER.

"Once [ will shew Me waking. Destiny

" Adds one illusion to thee. Yet, Oh child! " Yet will I not forsake thee; for thy soul,

" Its splendid self, hath known Me. Fare thee well."

VENUS.

What are these strange and silly words? Awake! Wake and devour me with the dawn of love,

The dragon to eclipse this moon of mine !

VENUS.

T ANNHAuSER.

I sleep not. Those were Her mysterious words As faded the great vision. And I knew

I n some forgotten corner of my brain

Some desperate truth.

Forget this foolishness!

[There cometh a shadow.

I am afraid, even I! What moves me thus?

TANNHAUSER.

I saw the mighty vision as before Forming in front of the awakening east, All permeated with the rose of dawn,

And pale with delicate green light and shade, SO

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Marvellous! So, you say, she is a witch Seeking to rob or trick you of your power?

VENUS.

I say so ? No! I dare not! Dh forbear!

TANNHAUSER (starts up).

There, there She comes in waking! Hail to Thee! I am afraid. I also, I myself!

Help! lover, Venus, mistress of my life! I cannot bear the glory of the gaze.

No man shall look upon the face of God! Where art thou? Save me from the scorpion! I am-alone!

HATHOOR.

Light, Truth, arise, arise!

T ANN HAUSER.

I see-I see! All blinded by the Light--

Thou art the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Love 1 Thou, Whom I sought through ages of deep sleep Forgotten when I died. There is no death:

Change alternating; and forgetfulness Of one state in the other-easy truth

I could not understand! Oh hear me, hear 1 Spare me the last illusion i-She is gone!

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VENUS.

Save me, my knight! To thy sufficing arms I diner in this distress of womanhood!

T ANNUAVSER.

Kiss me the last time.

VENUS.

Whom have I but thee, Thee in the ages? Barren were my bliss And shorn my Godhead of eternal joy,

Barred from thy kiss.

TANNIIAUSER.

VENUS.

Call not thyself again Goddess. I saw thee in the Presence there. The scales are fallen, and mine eyes see clear.

Then you would leave me? Serpent if I were, 1\1 y coils should press in dolorous delight

Thy straining bosom, and my kiss were death!

Death! Dost thou live, Tannhauser ? Sayest thou still :

" None bu t the dead can know the worth of love! " ?

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T ANN HAUSER.

Still. I am not in any sense estranged.

I yearn for thee in the first hour of spring, As in the dying days of autumn. I

Would clasp thee, as a child its mother's throat, Drinking celestial wine from that dear mouth,

Or with goodwiJI see poison in thy smile,

And die, still kissing thee, and kissed again! This, though I saw thee crawl upon the earth, Howl at Her presence Whom thou wouldest ape, Thy tale reversed. I read that thunder now! This, though I know thee. Aphrodite, no!

Nor Anael, nor Eva! Rather thou

Lilith, the woman-serpent, she who sucks

The breath of little children in their sleep, Strangles young maidens, and presides upon Sterile debauchery and unnatural1oves.

VENUS.

Lilith! Ah lover! Thou hast known my name!

TAN NHA USER.

So; yet I love thee! Rended is the veil! Calling thee Ugliness, I guessed aright, Who saw, and see, all Beauty in thee still. Only, a beauty risen out of Hell ;

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Death and delusion-ay, corruption's self, Wickedness sliming into impotence, Pleasure in putrefaction. But, in sleep,

I will put off that evil as a clout

Cast by a beggar.

VENUS.

And the sore is left.

TANNHAUSER.

Oh, but this body, very consciousness!

I banish both. I cross the crimson wallMy spirit shall reach up to and attain That other.

VENUS.

So Persephone must hold Thy life divided in Her dark domain.

T ANNHAuSER.

Already I have tasted! once of this

I n its own lesser way. Ten years ago I loved a maiden called Elizabeth.

A child she was, so delicate and frail, Far, white, and lonely as the coldest star Set beyond gaze of any eye but God's; And, to forget her, found due somnolence

I n such a warm brown bosom as thine own

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Is fire and amber. Then I came a.way:~ I heard of knights no better horsed than I. N 01 better sworded, with no gift of song, Who, caught by one Ineffable desire,

Rode on by old mysterious watersheds,

Traversed strange seas, or battled with strange folk, Held vigil in wild forests, all to seek

The vision of the Holy Grail. And I

Rode forth on that same foolish wandering; And found. a-many ventures on the way; At: last an old Egyptian; who bestowed

The magic word, which, when I had pronounced, Called up thine evil corpse-light in the sky.

He riddled me-ah God! I see it now!

The bloody winepress? The ascending sun. ? Thy dawning beauty and thine evil bed!

The double meaning 'I I had evil thoughts When I pronounced it-else had She Herself, H athoor or Mary, risen. Misery!

Incessant mystery of the search for Truth!

VENUS

Search out my mystery a little while!

T ANNHAUSER.

There is a flush of passion in thine eyes, An hunger in them; fascinate me now,

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M y serpent-woman, drawing out my breath Into thy life, and mingling that in mine!

See the rich blood that mantles to my touch, Invites the tooth t bite the shimmering skin, Till I could watch the ri pe red venom flow Slow on the hills of amber, staining them

I ts own warm purple. Look, the tender stream!

VENUS,

Let its old sleepy fragrance lull thee now, Yet madden thee in brain and sense and soul, Mixing success with infinite despair.

So; take our secret back to sleep with us:And in that sleep I know that thou wilt ch ose The fact, and leave the dream, and so disdain These far-off spleridours, catch the nearer joy, Take squalid kisses, banish crested love Intangible. Delights it thee, my friend,

To reach the summits unattained before,

And stumble on their snows? Thine old desire Was just to touch the mere impalpable,

To formulate the formless. Otherwise

Christ did as well-thine own words turn again!

TA NHAuSER.

Ah, if pure love could grow material! There are pure women!

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VENUS.

There you make me laugh!

Remember-e-] have known such. But besides You ask hot snow and leaden feather-flights!

T ANN HAUSER.

And you~you keep me worrying, fair queen, In logic and its meshes, when to-day

I rather would be caught in other nets,

The burning gold and glory of your hair, Lightning and sunshine, storm and radiance, Your flaming pell !

VENUS.

Come, sing to me again!

That we may watch each other as you sing; Feel how it overmasters and o'erwhelms, The growing pang of hunger for a kiss!

TANNHAUSER.

Brood evil, then, in your amazing eyes, That I may see the serpent grow in you; As I were just the bird upon the boughSo let the twittering grow faint and still, And let me fall, fall into the abyss,

Your arms-a culminating ecstasy,

H

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Darkness and death and rapture. ing to you? What song? My tunes are played upon too oft. My first great cry of love inaudible

Sapped me of music.

VENUS.

Sing me that again!

TANNHAUSER.

Who is this maiden robed for a bride,

White shoulders and bright brows adorable, The flaming locks that clothe her, and abide, As God were bathing in the fire of Hell ?

They change, they grow, they shake As sunlight on the lake:

They hiss, they glisten on her bosom bare. o maiden, maiden queen!

The lightning flows between

Thy mounting breasts, too magically fair.

Draw me, 0 draw me to a dreaming death! Send out thine opiate breath,

And lull me to the everlasting sleep,

That, closing from the kisses of disdain

To ecstasy of pain,

I may sob out my life into their danger us deep.

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Who cometh from the mountain as a tower Stalwart and set against the fiery foes?

Who, breathing as a jasmine-laden bower?

Who, crowned and lissome as a living rose?

Sharp thorns in thee are set; I n me, in me beget

The dolorous despair of this desire.

Thy body sways and swings Above the tide of things,

Laps me as ocean, wraps me round as fire!

Ye elemental sorceries of song, Surge, strenuous and strong,

Seeking dead dreams, the secret of the shrine; So that she drain my life and being up As from a golden cup,

To mingle in her blood, death's kiss incarnadine.

Who cometh from the ocean as a flower?

Who blossometh above the barren sea?

Thy lotus set beneath thee for a bower,

Thine eyes awakened, lightened, fallen on me ?

o Goddess, queen, and wife!

o Lady of my life!

Who set thy stature as a wood to wave?

Whose love begat thy limbs? Whose wave-washed body swims

That nurtured thee, and found herself a grave?

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But thou, th u, hast risen from th deep!

All mortals mourn and weep

To see thee, seeing that all lave must die Beside thy beauty, see thee and despair! Deadly as thou art fair,

I cry far all mankind - they are slain, even as I!

[Tml1lhiiltSer pauses, be1zds eagerl)' towards Venus.

She smilt1tg /llxwrious/y, he continues.

Who cometh wanton, with long arms outspread?

Who cometh with lascivious lips aflame?

Whose eyes invite me to the naked bed

Stark ap n to the sun, dear pride of shame?

Whose face draws close and near, Filling the soul with fear,

Till nameless shudders course in every limb?

Whose breath is quick and fierce? Whose teeth are keen to pierce

The arms that clasp her? Whose the eyes that

sWim

F or dear and delicate delight? And whose 'The lips that halt and choose

The very centre of my mouth, and meet

In one supreme and conquering kiss, and cleave

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Bringing all heart's blood to one house, too sore and sweet?

Who rageth as a lioness bereaved,

H, for a moment's breathing space, I move Back from the purple where her bosom heaved, Back from the chosen body that I love?

Whose lips ding faster still In desperate sweet will?

Whose body melts as fire caught in wine I n to the clasping soul?

Whose breathing breasts control

Her heart's quick pulsing, and the sob of mine?' o Venus, lady Venus, thou it is

Whose fierce immortal kiss

Abides upon me, about me, and within!

Thou, lady of the secret of the Sea, Made one for rove with me,

Love and desire and dream, a sense of mortal sin!

Who cometh as a visionary shape Within my soul and spirit to abide, Mysterious laibyrinth without escape, Magical lover, and enchanted bride? o Mother of my will !

Set thy live body still

Unto my heart, that even Eternity Roll by our barren bed-

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That even the quick and dead, Being mortal. mix in our eternal sea!

Distil we love from all the universe! efy the early curse!

Bid thorns and thistles mingle in delight!

nd from the athanor of death and pain Bring golden showers of rain

To crown our bed withal, the empire of the Night!

o Wife l Incarnate Beauty self-create!

o Life! 0 each! Love unimaginable !

Despair grows hope, as hope grows desperate; And Heaven bridges the great gulf of Hell.

Thy life is met with mine, Transmuted, grown divine, Even in this, the evil of the world! vVhat agony is this,

The first undying kiss

From jewelled eyes and lips in passion curled? o sister and 0 serpent and 0 mate, Strike the red fang of hate

Steady and strong, persistent to the heart!

So shall this song be made more terrible With the soul-mastering spell,

Choke, stagger, know the Evil, Beauty's counterpart!

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What passionate hatred, what infernal pains, Mixed with thy being in the womb of eath?

Blistering fire runs, Scorching, terrific suns,

Through body and soul in this abominable Marriage of demon power

Subtle and strong and sour,

A draught of ichor of the veins of Hell!

Curses leap leprous, epicene, unclean, The soul of the Obscene

I ncarnate in the spirit: and above

Hangs Sin, vast vampire, the corrupt, that swings Her unredeeming wings

Over the world, and flaps for lust of Death-and Love!

VENUS.

This man was drained of music!

Five new songs

Chase the three ancient to oblivion! Oh! Love is grown fury!

T ANNHA USER.

Kill me!

VENUS.

In the kiss. [TamzlLaltSer sleeps.

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ACT III.

J.

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For Love is lord of truth and loyalty, Lifting himself out of the lowly dust

On golden plumes up to the purest sky, Above the reach of loathly sinful lust, Whose base affect tbrcugh cowardly distrust Of his weak wings dare not to heaven fly, But like a moldwarp in the earth doth lie.

His dunghill thoughts, which do themselves enure To dirty dross, no higher dare aspire,

Nor can his feeble earthly eyes endure

The flaming light of that celestial lire

Which kindleth love in generous desire,

And makes him mount above the native might Of heavy earth, up to the heaven's height.

SPENSER, Hymn in Honour of Love.

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In Venusberg: chal'lg£ng afterward to a woodland crossway.

VENUS.

GONE to his Goddess! the poor worm's asleep. And yet-I cannot follow him. Not even Into the dreamland that these mortals use.

There, I am barred. The flaming sword of Light Is set against me, and new pangs consume

This nest of scorpions where my heart once was. Yet to my fearful task of hate I set

N a faltering bosom. I will have thi.s man, His life, his strength; and live a little more. Life-c-shall I ever reach the splendid sword Of womanhood, and gird it, gain my will,

A human soul, and from that altitude

Renew the terrible war against the Gods?

I have called Chronos the devouring God My father-shall his desolating reign

Never return? Ay me! this heart of hate, Loathing the mao) takes comfort in the beast,

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And gloats on the new garbage for an hour.

So, Sin, embrace me! Watch : he moves again, Transfigured by the dream: slow rapture steals Over his face. Mere godhead could not bring That human light and living! I will win.

He must have banished Her-and dreams of mc.

TANNHAUSER (£1t sleep).

Elizabeth!

VENUS.

His far-off baby-love!

I triumph, then! The Goddess hath withdrawn. His mind works back to childhood, babydorn, \Vill grmv to manhood and remember me.

TANNHAUSER (awaking, leaps to his/ect).

Freedom! Elizabeth 1 AU hail to Her! Radiant Goddess! Liberty and love!

VENUS.

What sayest thou? Curse Her!

T ANN HAUSER.

My Elizabeth!

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VENUS.

What? Art thou mad? Forget this nightmare. And I will soothe thee.

Come close to me again.

Rather, tell me it, Have I not a balm,

A sovereign comfort in myoId caress?

T ANNHAUSER.

I must begone. She waits.

VE us.

Who waits? Come here!

Let us talk fondly, set together still,

N at with these shouts and wavings of the arms, Struts and unseemly gestures. Tannhauser 1

TANNHAUSER.

She waits for me, my sweet Elizabeth! Venus or Lilith, I have loved thee well ! N ow, to my freedom!

VENUS.

Your Elizabeth!

T ANN HAUSER.

Ay, to those pure and alabaster brows, The tender fingers, and the maiden smile.

Burn the whore's bed! U npaint the cruel lips! 69

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Cover the shameless ben)" and forget

The cunning attitudes and aptitudes! Unlearn the mowings, the lascivious grins! I perceive purity.

VE us.

Nay, I have loved thee!

Fresh pleasure hourIy filled the crystal cup. Shalt thou find wine so comely and so keen, So fresh with life to fill each aching vein With new electric fervour? Will she be My equal? She is mortal and a child.

Her arms are frail and white. Her lily cheeks Could never take thy kiss. Thy love would shock, Repel, I scorn to say her love were less

Than mine: I tell thee that she could not love Thee even at all as thou wouldst und rstand,

TANNHAUSER.

So certain art thou? Let me go to her, Try, and come back !I

VENUS,

No doubt of that success!

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TANNHAUSER.

Vile thing I will try otherwise-to raise myself ::

But if I fail, I will not drag her down; I will return.

VENUS.

To lose thee for one hour

Is my swift death-so desolate am I!

I have not got one lover in the world, Save only Tannhauser. And he will go.

T ANNHAUSER.

One lover! Who makes up the equal soul Of all the wickedness beneath the sun? Lilith! Seek out thy children to devour! Leave me. I go to my Elizabeth.

VENUS.

o no! It kills me! That is naked truth. I am the soul and symbol of desire,

Yet individual to thy love. Stay! Stay! One last caress, and then I let thee go, And-die. I fear, and I detest, this death. I am not mortal, doomed to it! I slip

Into mere slime; no resurrection waits

Me, made the vilest of the stars that fell.

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I must not die. I dare not. But for thee, Thy love, one last extreme delirium !Take thou this dagger! At the miracle

Of a moment when our lips are fastened close Once more, in the unutterable kiss.,

Drive its sharp spirit to my heart!

T ANN HAUSER.

Not I!

I know the spell. J am warned. I will begone.

VENUS.

I swear I will not let thee! Thinkest thou

So long I have held thee not to have the power To hold thee still by charm, or love, or force? Fool, for I hate thee! I will have thy life!

T ANNHAUSER.

Where is the cavern in the mountain side, The accursed gateway of this house of Hell ?

VENUS.

Thou canst not find it! Fool!

T ANN HAuSER.

And yet I will,

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VENUS.

Meanwhile my chant shall tremble in the air, And rack thy limbs with poison, wither up

The fine full blood, breed serpents in thy heart, And. worms to eat thee. Living thou shalt be A sensible corpse, a walking sepulchre.

Corne, come, Apol1yon! Come, my Aggereth ! Belial, cheat his ears and blind his eyes!

Come, all ye tribes of serpents and foul fish! Beetle and worm, I have a feast for you!

T ANNHAUSER.

The palace staggers. I can hardly seeOnly these writhing horrors. I am blind!

VENUS.

Ha l My true knight! I ask thee once again, Once more invoke the epithets of love,

Suspend my powers-constrain thee on my knees F or thine old kisses. See, I am all thine!

All thine the splendid body, and the shape

Of mighty breasts, and supple limbs, and wide Lips, and slow almond eyes! Adorable, Seductive, sombre, moving amorously,

Droop the long eyelids, purple with young blood, The lazy lashes and the flowing mane,

The flame of fire from head to feet of me !

K

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The subtle fervours, drunken heats and ways, And perfumes maddening from the soul of spring! The little nipples, and the dangerous pit

Set smiling in the alabaster; thine,

The glowing arms are thine. the desperate Fresh kisses, and the goldl that lurks upon The sunil)' skin, the marble of these brows, The roses, and the poppies, and the scent Subtle and sinful-thine, all thine, are these, What with my heart that only beats for thee, The many-throned and ma.ny-minded soul Centred to do thee worship. Hither, hither!

T ANNHAuSER.

This shakes my spirit as a winnower Whose fan is the eternal breath of God; Yet on my forehead I perceive a star

That shames thy beauties and thy manifold Mind with its tiny triple flame. I go!

VENUS.

Try not the impossible. Thou knowest my power. I shall renew the charm.

TA NHAU ER.

I see a Power Above thy mockery of witchcraft. Work

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Thy devilish lusts on me unfortunate! There is no gateway to this fortalice ?

Thy fiends surround me? Hein! their pangs begin ~ I have one word, one cry, one exorcism:

Ave Maria!

VENUS.

Mercy! Mercy, God!

[Thu1tder rolts in the tightning-rt"ven sky. A Ii the il!usio'n vanishes, and Tannhiittser finds .himself itt a cross-way of the forest, where is a Crucifix. He is kneeling at the loot. amazed, CiS one awakening fron« a dream, or /rO'Jrt a vision of mysterious power.

T ANN HAUSER.

I am escaped as a little bird

Out of the fowler's net. I thank 'Thee, God! F or in the pit of horror, and the clay

Of death I cried, and Thou hast holpen me; Set me upon a rock, established me,

And filled my mouth, and tuned mine ancient lyre With a new song-praise, praise to God above, And to Our Lady of the Smitten Heart,

'That David never knew: my pettiness

Exceeding through Her mercy and Her might The King and Priest of Israel; for I know

Her love, and She hath shewn to me Her face,

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And given me a magic star to stand ver the house that hides Elizabeth.

[A sluplterd-boJI is discovered UPOll a rock Izard by.

S HEPHERD-I:lOY.

Ta-lirra-lirra! Hillo ho ! The morning!

[ He plays upon h£s flu.te.

TANNHAUSER.

These were the melodies that 1 despised! Oh God! Be merciful to sinful me,

And keep me in the Way of Truth. But Thou! Forgive. forgive! Lead, lead me to Thy Light!

SHEPHERD-BOY (sings).

Light: in the sky Dawns to the East! eng-bird and beast Wake and reply.

Let me not die,

N ow, at the least!

Lord of the Light!

Queen of the dawn!

Soul of the Night

Hid and withdrawn!

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Voice of the thunder!

Light of the levin!

I worship and wonder, o maker of Heaven!

The night falls asunder; The darkness is riven!

Light, 0 eternal! Life, 0 diurnal!

Love, 0 withdrawn!

Heart of my May, spring Far to Thy dawn!

God of the dayspring!

Sun on the lawn!

Hail to Thy splendour, Holy, I cry!

Mary shall bend her Face from the sky, Subtle and tenderThen I can die!

T ANNHAuSER.

The simple Rove of life and gladness there! Merely to be, and worship at the heart. How complex! the machinery of me ! Better? I doubt it. Hark! he tunes again.

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SHEPHERD-BOV (S?'ugs).

o Gretchen, when the mom is grey, Forsake thy flocks and steal away

To that low bank where, shepherds say, The Rowers eternal are.

Thine eyes should gleam to s e me there, As fixed upon a star,

And yet thy lips should take a tune, And match me unaware-

So steals the sun beside the moon And hides her lustre rare.

The bloom upon the peach is fine; The blossom on thy cheek is mine! o kiss me-if you dare!

I called thee by the name of love That mothers fear and gods approve, And maidens blush to say-

o Gretchen, meet me in the dell

We know and love, who love so well, While morn is cold and gray!

So, match thy blushes to the dawn; Thy bosom to the rising moon, Until our loves to earth have drawn

Some new bewitching tune,

Come, Gretchen, in the dusk of day, Where nymphs and dryads creep away Beneath the oaks, to laugh and play

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And sink in lover's swoon.

We'll sing them sister songs, and shew What secrets mortal lovers know ..

TANNHAUSER.

The simple life of love and joy therein! Merely to love-to take such pride in it Gods must behold I The childish easiness,

I mpossible to me, who am become

Perhaps the subtlest mind of men. Alas! Maybe in this I still am self-deceived, Merely the fool swelled up with bitter words, Imagination, and the toadstool growth, Thought, wounded; as a scorpion to sting

I ts own bruised life out. This is Tannbaiiser ! How long ago since he took pleasure in

Such love- [A horn winds.

such music as yon horn below-s-

[A chant is .heard.

Such worship as the simple chant that steals Calm and majestic in the solitude

Up from the valley. Pilgrims, by my fay!

[Enter PILGRIMS.

PILGRIMS.

Hail to Thee, Lady bright, Queen of the stars of night.!

Ave Maria!

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Spouse of the Breath divine, Hail to Thee, shrouded shrine, Whence our Redeemer came! Hail to Thy holy name!

Ave Maria!

T ANNHAUSER.

Those words that saved me!

SHEPHERD- BOY.

Pray, your blessing, sirs!

I worship Mary in my simple way,

And see Her name in all the starry host, And Jesus crucified on every tree

For me! God speed you to the House of God!

THE ELDEST PIlLGRIM.

The Blessing of the Virgin on your head!

THE YOUNGEST PILGRIM.

What make you, sir, so downcast? Come with us Who taste all happiness in uneasiness,

Hunger and thirst, in His sweet Name-

TANNHAU ER.

Ah no !

I have been shown another way than yours! I am too old in this world's weariness,

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Too hungry in its hunger unto God, Too foolish-wise, too passionate-cynical, To seek your royal road to Deity!

A . OTHER PILGRIM.

Leave him! Belike 'tis some philosopher With words too big to understand himself.

T ANN HAUSER.

With heart too seared to understand himself! With mind too wise to understand himself! With soul too small to understand himself!

ELDEST PILGRIM.

Cling to the Cross, sir, there is hope in that!

T ANNHAUSER.

You know not, friend, the man to whom you speak. I have lived long in miracles enough,

Myself the crowning miracle of all,

That I am merely here. God speed you, sirs! I ask your blessing. not to stay therewith

My soul's own need (though that is dire enough) But-··· he that blesseth shall himself be blessed! My blessing were small help to you, my friends.

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A INTELLIGENT PILGRIM.

For your own reason, give it to us, then!

T ANNUAuSER.

The Blessing of the Lord! May Mary's self Be with you and defend you evermore,

Most from the fearful destiny of him

Men used to call the minstrel Tannhauser l

ELDEST PILGRIM.

A sombre blessing! May God's mercy fall On you and yours!

TANNHAUSER.

On mine, ah mine I Amen

Amen to that!

ELDEST PILGRIM (smz"les .

On her you love, my friend! \Ve will pass onward, by your honour's leave!

PILGRIMS.

Hail, hail, 0 Queen, to Thee, Spouse of Eternity!

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Mother in Maidenhood! Saintly Beatitude!

Queen of the Angel Host! Bridle of the Holy Ghost!

Ave Maria!

[Exeunt Pilgrims.

TANNHAUSER.

The love of I sis! No mere love to Her That is inborn in every soul of us ,!

It is Her love to Christ that we must taste, Uniting us with Her eternal sigh.

There is a problem infinite again.

I have not gained one jot since first I saw The stately bosom of the Venusberg,

Save that mine eyes have seen a little truth, My body found a little weariness.

I am very feeble! Hither comes the hunt!

[A horn w£nds tjuite close by.

The noble, doomed, swift beauty! Closer yet

Pant the long hounds! What heart he has! One, two! See the brach dying by his bloody flank!

So could not Tannhauser awhile ago.

My help lay outside and above myself.

What skills him he is brave? He ends the same. Poor stag! Here sweep the foremost hunters up. My very kinsmen! There rides Wolfram too! The proper minstrel! The ideal lover !~

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The pure, unsullied soul. Even so, forsooth! They tell no secrets in the scullery.

And there is Heinrich, wastrel of the Court, Yet hides a heart beneath the foolish face.

nd lo! The Landgrave! Flushed, undignified!

The chase was long-if he could see himself! Wind, wind the mort! What call will answer me When I step forward? Am I dead, I wonder, Or merely on my hare-brain quest? Three years Since I was seen in Germany!

[He descends the hill and enters the company.

Hail, friends!

G d cousin Landgrav , merry be the meet!

WOLFRAM.

LANDGRAVE.

Hands off me, fellow! Who are you?

T ANNHAUSER.

My lord, Your cousin. Is my face so chang d with car, My body shrunken with my suffering

(That was not ever of the body) so?

I know you, my old Iriend l OUf chiefest bird! Sweetest of singers!

T ANNHAUSER.

No, the naughty one! 84

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HEINRICH,

Tannhauser l Yes! And we have thought you dead.

LANDGRAVE.

Friends, will you swear to him?

HEINRICH.

Yes, yes, 'tis he!

WOLFRAM.

I know the blithe look in the sober eyes!

LANDGRAVE.

Changed verily. It was most urgent, cousin, I were assured of your identity.

Three weeks the couriers scour the land for you, Urgent demands :-how came you here at last?

Your horse? Your arms? Three years since Germany Saw the brave eyes and kindly face of you!

Where have you been? Upon the sacred quest

Still riding?

TANNHAUSER.

Ay,. my lord" upon the quest.

LAND GRAVE.

You travelled in far lands?

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TAN HAUSER.

F ar, very far!

I fought within myself.

LANDGRAVE.

You fought with Turks?

T ANNHAUSER.

LA DGRAVE.

Why is such suffering written. in dark lines, And painted in the greyness of your hair

You saw the Grail?

T ANNHAUSER.

I had an evil dream.

LANDGRAVE.

T ANNHAUSER.

WOLFRAM.

I saw-strange things.

F or very feebleness

Your limbs shake under you. How hither, friend? Your horse and arms? Your squire?

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TANNHAUSER (with sudden passion).

My squire is dead.

I am no weakling that I need a knave Hanging upon me-'tis an incubus.

LANDGRAVE.

And then your horse '?

TANNHAUSER.

I know not; possibly Kept as an hostage. I was prisoner once.

WOLFRAM.

Prisoner? By here?

TANNHAUSER.

A-many castles, sir, Held by old ogres-and not all of them Stand in the mid-day, front the sober sun, Answer the slug-horn.

LANDGRAVE.

You are pleased to riddle.

Ever the poet!

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T NN.HA USER (asrde).

Let me try the truth For certitude of incredulity!

(Alottd, la'ughing) I was in Venusberg!

ALL (except HEINRICH, who laughs).

Save us, Maria! [They look abou.t tltem fia1fully and cross themselves.

LANDGRAVE.

Even in jest, such words I-Most dangerous Even to think of!-but to speak!

HEINRICH (asZ:de).

These fools 1

[He remains, thoughtfully regarding Tan nh a user.

LANDGRAVE.

God avert omens! Soft you" Tannhauser, You heard the heralds?

TANNH USER.

N ever a word of them!

LANDGRAVE.

You must remember my Elizabeth,

My dauahter= I designed to marry her To a most noble youth-

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T ANNHAUSER.

Von Aschenheim ?

LANDGRAVE.

The same. I would have wed her, but ('tis strange! ) The lady had a purpose of her own,

And swore by all the Virgins in the Book She would wed nobody but-c-Tannhauser. So, like the foolish, doting sire I am,

I gave her thirty days to find you. This Must dumb you with astonishment.

T ANNHAUSE:R.

Well, no!

The details, unfamiliar! But the theme

I knew. And therefore leaps my bosom up :

I rob your verderer of his nag, and ho! Low the long gallop to Elizabeth!

WOLFRAM.

Lucky and brave. How we al] envy you!

HEINRICH.

Envy? This day when he comes back to us ! Why, we are lucky I:Oo! We thought you dead!

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WOLFRAM.

Begrudge you, no ! But-wish our luck were yours? Yes! Come, Tannhauser, there's my hand on it! Luck, love, and loyalty-the triple toast!

FORESTERS.

Tannhauser l Luck) and love, and loyalty!

WOLFRA 1.

T ANNHAUSER.

I thank you, loving kinsmen and my friends.

ut see, I am impatient to be gone!

Your horse-that favour I shall not forget, N r linger to repay. Good morrow then! Good sport all day!

LANDGRAVI£.

God speed thee, Tannhauser,

[Exit Tannhiiuser.

Am I still dreaming? I t was surely he But such an one, compact of suffering, Of joy, of love, of pity, of despair;

Half senseless, half too subtle for my sense.

He has passed through some unimagined test, Or undergone some sorrow. Leave it so !

I saw high grief upon him, and new love!

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HEINRICH,.

You are the poet! To your instinct then! Here's to the insight given us by God!

LANDGRAVE.

Wolfram is right; a truce to jest to-day.

The dogs are loose. Ride forward, gentlemen! [Amid the wz'ndz'ng of horns and cries of the huntsmen the company moves off:

HEINRICH,

They hate his very name! Dear Tannhauser l [Exz't.

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UN IVERS ITY 0 F CALI FORN IA

ACT IV.

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" So, force is sorrow, and each sorrow, force:

What then? since Swiftness gives the charioteer The palm, his hope be in the vivid horse

Whose neck God clothed with thunder, not the steer Sluggish and safe! Yoke Hatred, Crime, Remorse, Despair: but ever mind t.he whirling fear,

Let, through the tumult, break the poet's face

Radiant, assured his wild slaves win the race!"

Two Poets of Croisic.

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SCENE ],

A room £n the palace of the Landgrave.

ELIZABETH.

I AM ashamed to look upon thy face!

T ANNHAUSER.

o Lovel Pure mystery of life!

ELIZABETH.

Not so.

Learn how this came. My father would have made A match of lands and titles. I declined,

Minded to keep my high virginity.

He laughed, was cruel. So I said at last: " T annhauser only! jj Was this modesty? Listen. You loved me when I was a child; And, in my childish way, I looked to you, Loved sitting at your knee and toying with

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The great cross-hilt, or watching how the steel Outshone the jewelled scabbard when you drew (You would not let me touch) the delicate blade Half out: and also fingering your harp,

Picking child's tunes out, while you curled my hair Between two fingers, dreamily en ugh!

Then, too, you went away out of my life!

You see the symbol you have been to me?

The swift high mind, the heart of gold and fire, The living purpose and the mystic life

Of lonely seeking for the Grail of God!

I-call you husband? When I said our name, I t was to set the task impossible :-

Had they but known it-just as one should say: " Bring down St Michael: let me marry him! " They knew the angels were too pure; but you, They guessed not how exalted were your hopes; How utterly unselfish, pure, and true,

Your great heart beat!

TANNHAUSER (with bitterness).

I hardly knew, myself! (Aside.) Here is the virgin insight of the truth! Or-cannot purity be brought to know

Aught but itself? Some poets tell us that! (Aloud.) I am unworthy even to speak to you.

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